How to Keep Birds Safe From Feral Cats

Depending on the estimate, the United Statesáis home to between 30 million to 80 million stray and feral cats.

Ecologists like Peter Marra consider outdoor cats to be the main cause of bird deaths driven by humans. And theáSmithsonian notes that they’ve caused 33 extinctions worldwide.

Here’s how you can help keep birds safe from stray and feral cats.

1. Don’t feed the cats.

According to Marra, stray and feral cats kill three times more birds than pet cats. While not technically feral because they interact with humans, stray cats sometimes get food from people, allowing their numbers to grow.

Report these cats to aáshelter, rather than enabling them to kill more birds.

2. Support trap-neuter-release programs with awareness.

By themselves, programs that trap feral cats and neuter them so they can’t reproduce are not a panacea.

However, trap-neuter-releaseáprograms can help get populations under control in a humane way.á

3. Try a cat bib — or collar.

Susan Willson, a tropical avian ecologist and conservation biologist, estimates that feral cats do 70 percent of the hunting of wild birds. And her 2013 study found that when wearing one colorful collar, called BirdsBeSafe, cats killed 3.4 times fewer birdsáon average.

Willsonátells Audubonáthat she hopes people who work with feral cat coloniesáwill give the collar a try.

4. Try a cat repellant in your yard.

Some protect the birds flocking to their feeders by trying a form of cat repellant.

The Nest recommends scattering citrus peels in your yard or planting a speciesáthat cats don’t seem to like, likeácoleus canina. You can also top your fence with chicken wire — angled out — whichámakes it harder for cats to climb into your yard.á

5. Consider using a humane trap to take feral cats to aáshelter.

Be gentle if you catch a cat, and check your traps often.

Humane traps are a much better — and more ethical — alternative toápoison.áAnd harmingáferal cats is illegal in many areas.

6. Cut down on hiding places near bird feeders and baths.

Plant thorny bushes surrounding areas that birds frequent. Keep feeders and baths at least five feet away from shrubbery, and installábird houses at least eight feet off the ground.

And theseáare a few more ideas to make youráyard and garden bird friendly.

7. Support animal shelters, stray and feral cat programs and national bird groups.

Whether through fostering animals or donating money or resources, you can help these groups trying to protect birds and cats.

As pet columnist Steve Dale writes on Petcha, all organizationsámust work together to help control feral cat populations.

Photo Credit: Max Pixel

83 comments

Peggy B
Peggy B4 days ago

TYFS

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Marion F
Marion F17 days ago

In garden centers you can also purchase so-called "marten grids" to wrap around the tree trunks in your garden for little money, this is a tip that some German bird protection orgs like NABU (NATURSCHUTZBUND) or other orgs like the German Animal Protection Foundation (Tierschutzbund, I´m a member of that org) give again and again, no need to poison or cull the feral and outdoor cats at all, but by the way, cats´re not responsible for the decreasing number of birds as much as it may seem anyway, the birds don´t find any food anymore or they die from pesticides by eating the insects and worms, or the fruits that´ve been sprayed with them, plus the whole pollution at all kills the birds too, don´t blame the birds, the outdoor cats our family had in the 80s and 90s brought home about 95 % mice and about 5 % birds, and they brought EVERY prey home proudly, please remember: CATS CAN´T FLY!!! Oh and also by the way, the cute squirrels, magpies, crows or martens steal more eggs for baby birds from the nests than cats ever could, that´s nature.... 😲😲😲 If you google it you can find evidence for this all, but here in Germany it´s almost 1 am yet and too late to google it!!!

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Kelsey S
Kelsey S20 days ago

Thanks

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Renata B
Renata B21 days ago

Emily Zak, a good piece of advice: educate your self before writing, ok? Talking about extinction: on what planet do you live? And Care2 publish such uninformed, ridiculous crap!

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Renata B
Renata B21 days ago

For God's sake, why don't you start to eliminate all the human hunters, eh? I spent a week at the Omega Center in NY state (near Rhinebeck): beautiful woods all around and endless shooting all day long. And it was supposed to be a retreat for peace and reflection. An absolute shame. But of course we blame the cats. How easier.
Cats should be kept indoors and in catios: SAFE. Feral cats should be neutered and possibly rehomed (yes, it is possible) or released (sterile).
That is the measure of the civilisation of a country (see the famous quotation of Gandhi on this subject).

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Kelsey S
Kelsey S21 days ago

Thanks

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Aaron F
Aaron F23 days ago

What an uninformed and non-scientific firestorm this topic always brings on... Take another, closer look at just WHO (not what) are killing birds...

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Melania Padilla
Melania Padilla2 months ago

Oh poor kittens, I would not consider stop feeding them. The only long-term solution is spay/neuter but that is not always the case. So many cats out there having kitties is still common. I don't see this in your article (you can put this on your cat, I guess not on feral ones): https://www.birdsbesafe.com/

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Clare O
Clare O2 months ago

th

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Margie FOURIE
Margie F2 months ago

Thank you

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